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Canadian Politics

A15(c) - Assessing the Policy Performance of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government: Retrospective, Prospective or Gyroscopic Mandate Assessments - Panel 1

Date: Jun 6 | Time: 08:45am to 10:15am | Location: SWING 107

Chair/Président/Présidente : Lisa Birch (Université Laval)

Session Abstract: Democratic mandate theory has many variants models of representation varying from promissory, to anticipatory to gyroscopic or surrogate representation (Mansbridge, 2003). These theoretical models of representation have different implications for governing party behavior and for the ways in which citizens hold them accountable and make voting decisions. They also have different implications for how political parties construct their campaign platforms. The Trudeau government’s decision to hire Michael Barber, to implement his "deliverology" model and to create the Mandate Letter Tracker suggests that the Trudeau government may prioritize promissory representation. Yet, over the course of a four-year period, unanticipated events forced issues onto the government’s agenda and led to decisions. The Trudeau polimeter tracks the 353 promises identified in the platform. As of early September 2018, 42% of promises are rated as kept, 39% as kept in part or in the works, 4 % as broken and 15% are not yet rated. However, in an era of permanent campaigns, political marketing, and new political governance, one may well question the very nature of election promises. Some promises may target specific market segments and others may be more or less salient to citizens. Which model of representation best accounts for the actions of the Trudeau government since it came to power in October 2015? What role, if any, did deliverology play? Does it matter which promises are kept and which promises are broken? We propose 4 panels, linked to a collective book to be published in both official languages.

Assessing Justin Trudeau’s Performance at Fulfilling Campaign Pledges: Lisa Birch (Université Laval)
Abstract: Did the government of Justin Trudeau keep its promises? This chapter provides an overview of the 353 campaign promises in the Liberal Party platform and counts those that were fulfilled on the basis of the Trudeau Polimeter verdicts. The Trudeau government has not only delivered on most of its promises, but has done better than any previous government in Ottawa for 25 years. This good performance is due in part to a happy combination of circumstances (economic growth, majority government) and to Justin Trudeau’s determination to deliver on his campaign promises.

Canadian Federalism: An Obstacle to Promise Fulfillment?: François Rocher (University of Ottawa)
Abstract: Justin Trudeau and the Provinces. In this chapter, François Rocher examines federal relations with the provinces and territories, focusing his attention on the ways in which the actions of the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau have been impacted or have been impacted by the division of jurisdictions between levels of government.

Political Marketing and Communication Strategy in the Trudeau Era: Alex Marland (Memorial University of Newfoundland), Vincent Raynauld (Emerson College)
Abstract: This chapter investigates to what extent Justin Trudeau’s communication strategy has been influenced by the rise of the “permanent campaign”, leading his government to implement “transactional” promises intended to target specific voter market segments, and to what extent it has been influenced by the need to push forward his more “transformational” promises intended to impact society as a whole.

Parliamentary & Electoral Reform : Henry Milner (Université de Montréal)
Abstract: This chapter focuses on the success of the government of Justin Trudeau in fulfilling several promises in the area of parliamentary reform. It also explains how and why Justin Trudeau came to abandon one of his most salient campaign promises, electoral reform.